Friday, October 1, 2010

Active Reading

If there's something I've learned about ordering people around, is that they want to know why they are doing something, students especially. Granted, they'll find a way to complain about just anything if it's that kind of a day, but in general I've found that if you can convince them that the work has value, they'll do it. Begrudgingly, but with a tad less resistance.

It is for that reason I give my students a short spiel about active reading, even introducing the term "metacognition." (I also find if you throw around scientific terms/studies to back it up, they will also begrudgingly accept the fact that, hey you know what you're talking about. They're all about the propaganda, those teenagers.)

Since I couldn't have students mark up their textbook for active reading, the next best thing is to do this orally, as we read together. I took a note from my student teaching mentor teacher and made little "Metacog" cards.

Making "MetaCog"/Active Reading cards
1. You will need 3 or 4 3x5 or 4x6 (your preference) index cards.
2. You will need markers/fine-tip Sharpies of as many different colors as you have index cards (i.e. 3 or 4)
3. Using a different color per card, on one side of the card write:
4. On the other side, I write a giant question mark and make a funky border. You could do the same or write "MetaCog" or "Active Reading" or whatever fun quirky title you want to give this activity.

In Class...
5. Explain the idea of active reading/metacognition to students.

Explain however you so choose, but you will need to eventually lead explaining the skills that are on the cards.
  • Prediction - predict an event or plot twist or character development, etc. Make a guess as to something that will happen in the next few pages or in the next 100 pages.
  • Question - question the text. Are you confused about what is happening? Is there an unfamiliar word? Do you wonder what a character's motive/etc. is? You as teacher may choose to answer it or not. I usually don't unless they claim to have no clue what is happening, then I have a peer help explain.
  • Comment - comment on something happening in the text. This is the "freestyle" section. Anything from "I can't believe she just did that!" to "Don't go in there!" to "I wish I could do that!"
  • Connection - connect something from the book to anything outside of it, be it another book, movie, or life experience.
6. Explain that you are going to give the cards to 3 (or 4) random students.
7. As the class reads, you will periodically call out a color.
8. The student with the card of that color must then offer a prediction OR question OR comment OR connection on the text. Student's choice.
9. After s/he does so, student gets to pass the card to whomsoever s/he chooses. And next student must accept! (this invokes that slight element of cruelty that makes it a little fun to watch).
10. After the card has been passed, class will continue to read. At the appointed time, teacher will call out a new color, and the process repeats.

I make a little chart for myself ahead of time, tallying which colors I've called so I don't call the same one over and over or in the same order. Like to keep 'em on their toes.

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